Combatting Terrorism: Prime Minister Theresa May vs. Silicon Valley

The London terrorist bridge attack on Saturday resulted in the death of 7 people and injuring more.  Earlier that week, there was a bombing in Manchester during an Arianna Grande concert that resulted in the death of 23 people, and injuring more than 100 other people.

Two attacks in one week within England has led English Prime Minister Theresa May, and the British government question on how these attacks are becoming more common, and how do they stop more from occuring.

So a discussion has developed as the western world tries to discern the cause behind the rise in terrorist attacks and activities in recent times. There is no question that the majority of these terrorists are coming from the Middle East. But what radicalized immigrants from the Middle East who had already long-lived in western society? We know they are being radicalized by ISIS, but how is ISIS getting to them?

The American Ambiguity

In America, the left, and the right are on totally opposite sides of the spectrum when trying to find a solution to the alleged radicalization that is entering the west.

The right looks at the problem as that having an influx of immigrants coming in from a third world country will always lead to problems in the 1st world country that they join. The right believes that waging a war against Radical Islam and/or Islamism is the solution that will stop a lot of these terrorist attacks.

It is the belief that Islam doesn’t work with western values.

The left however, points towards two different problems that were created by America, and not the Middle East. Islam is not the issue to the left; it’s Islamophobia: First, the U.S bombs middle eastern countries, and then treats people from those countries horribly. This then makes it easier for people to become radicalized. The real terrorists, like ISIS then infiltrate poorer Muslim neighborhoods and turn them against the west. The solution in their eyes is to show more love toward Muslims in the west and fight the real enemy, which is ISIS.

The British Response

Prime Minister Theresa May is taking a different route, she is attacking Silicon Valley and calling for wide government control over the internet.

May and others have singled out and criticized companies like Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc, and Alphabet Inc (Google), for not fighting the radical recruiting that occurs on the internet, through whatever technological means these companies have.

Her attack on tech companies being the reason for terrorists being able to recruit more people might have some truth to it, but it is unclear if online recruiting has any link to the extremists and the recent attack.

It’s impossible for these companies to find questionable content and radical recruitment, because their blog pages, social media accounts, and content is constantly being created every day. The fast pace of media, and blogs in general and the scope of the internet makes it impossible, even though many of these companies are working to the best of their abilities to stop this from happening.

Tech companies like Facebook have responded to May’s criticism of them not doing enough to fight terrorism. Director of policy Simon Milner said:

“We want to provide a service where people feel safe, that means we do not allow groups or people that engage in terrorist activity, or posts that express support for terrorism. We want Facebook to be a hostile environment for terrorists.”

Google and Twitter also responded in various ways to May’s critical claim that they are not doing enough to stem terror activity online.

May not only attacked Silicon Valley, but she also called for government authority to censor what people can access and see while surfing the internet.

“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed – yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide Internet-based services provide.” She also said, “We need to work with allied democratic government to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.” [Emphasis added}

This is far too extreme for many people due to the fact that this policy involves concerted censorship. If companies are already actively fighting terrorism through technology and other resources then PM Theresa May can’t expect these companies to completely solve this issue at her demand. Instead, she can only focus on her own country, and the next step she seems to be pursuing for England is security through surveillance.

What is the solution to terrorism? Comment below your thoughts!